That is the consensus of four Breema instructors who are also professional therapists. I spoke with them about how Breema has supported them and their practice. "As a client, when I look at the person who is my therapist, I want to know that someone is home there," says Aron Saltiel, psychotherapist in Graz, Austria. "I don't want someone who is trying to compute how they can fix me, I want to know that I am actually being seen and heard. So how does the therapist make sure they are actually seeing and hearing the other person? By experiencing their own presence." Aron has a private therapy practice in addition to organizing and teaching many Breema classes, workshops and intensives. "Everything else can only happen once this presence and connection is established, and becomes available in the moment. All the tools I have acquired in my professional training become available to me when I am present, and I know what is needed."
The other therapists agreed, and also see that when they have body, mind and feelings united—in other words, when they are truly present—they have much more confidence in the process of the session than when they rely only on mental processes to determine what the other person needs. "When I'm present while I'm with people, I often know what is the right thing to say or do," says Ann Hudson, LCSW. She is currently working with hospice patients and their families. "When my mind is directing the interaction, I don't experience that connection between myself and the other people. Breema is a real source of confidence for me."
Acceptance is key
"In the session, I represent acceptance for my clients. I work with being present so I can model that for them," says Matthew Tousignant, a somatic psychotherapist in private practice in Pennsylvania. "Because of my study and practice of Breema, I may have developed that more, but my goal is to help them find that in themselves." Matthew actually gives Breema bodywork during sessions with his clients. He finds it increases their openness, helps them experience body-mind connection, introduces them to acceptance and non-judgment, and opens them up to experiencing the atmosphere of presence which ultimately can guide them to experiencing their essential aspect and inherent health. It also helps the client to be more balanced, and receptive to looking at themselves and their situation with less judgment. "I can support them because I don't need them to be anything other than what they are. Over time, they may experience moments of No Judgment, or No Extra, or come to recognize that they are being supported." He works with the Nine Principles of Harmony with some of his clients, as guidance towards coming to balance and harmony, especially when they have had an experience of becoming balanced by receiving Breema bodywork.
Supporting the therapist supports the client
Angela Porter, Program Director at New Bridge Foundation, a drug and alcohol treatment center, is an IMF and Registered Addiction Specialist. "From the time I pull into the parking lot, I'm working with body-mind connection, whenever I can remember," she said in reply to a question I asked about how she uses Breema at her work. "I use body-centered meditation and Self-Breema exercises at the beginning and end of groups I lead. I talk about the Breema principles, helping clients to work with Body Comfortable or No Extra so they can move a little in the direction of being present. This facilitates their process without a lot of emotional 'extra,' and they don't get stuck in whatever catharsis they are going through." Angela also sees her own level of presence as vital to support the process. "When I am connected to myself, the atmosphere that is created in the room supports the client to trust, to take risks, and supports me to know when it's time to stop, when we've done enough for that session." Many of the clients she works with have experienced a lot of trauma, and she finds that helping them to connect to their bodies is an invaluable tool that supports them to come easily back to balance, even in cases of 'emotional flooding.' "The goal is that they ultimately learn to do this for themselves. They don't become dependent on me, the therapist, to 'fix' them," she says. "The principle of No Judgment allows people to experience that they are really OK. No matter what their stories are, they have the chance to see that they are not only their stories, not only what has happened to them in the past."
She also feels that it is necessary for her own self-care. "I absolutely could not do the work I do—because of the intensity level—if I didn't have a practice that brings me back to myself by bringing me back to my body over and over again through the day. I would get exhausted and drained by my work with clients (a definite hazard of the field—vicarious trauma and burnout are big issues). That would happen to me much more without Breema. I don't get so identified with my clients' problems, yet am able to have genuine well wishing and warm regard for them regardless of their issues—this helps me and them."
All of these therapists mentioned that therapy was more effective in the atmosphere of No Judgment. "If I have the ambition to 'heal' my patient, it comes from my personality and gets in the way," says Aron. "The atmosphere of acceptance is what supports the process of healing." Breema practice helps Aron become present in many different aspects of his life, including the therapist-client relationship, and helps him see when he is not receptive. He also teaches Self-Breema exercises to clients, and in practicing them together, finds support for his own aim to be present.
The support of connection to the body
Ann Hudson was a longtime Breema instructor and practitioner before going into practice as a therapist. "Having worked with Breema and its philosophy and principles for so many years forms the background of how I look at my hospice work and the process of dying," she told me. "Connection to my own body is such a support in the highly emotionally charged situations I find myself in in this work. I have the wish to remember this when I'm with my clients, but I have to support that possibility by practicing it in the walk up to the front door, as I ring the doorbell, as I stand there waiting for the door to open. Then, even if I get emotionally involved during the time I am with them, I can come back to body-mind connection after the interaction, and that helps me come back to balance. The wisdom of the Breema teaching—that in reality there is only the process of formation and transformation—helps me to view death and dying as a natural process, and that supports me to have acceptance and willingness to be there in support of my clients."